Gemma Arterton, Isla Blair And Veterans Of Dagenham Protest To Fight Gender Pay Gap

Gemma Arterton And Veterans Of Dagenham Protest Fight Gender Pay Gap

Made In Dagenham stage star Gemma Arterton will visit Parliament on Tuesday to highlight the gender pay gap, which Labour claimed resulted in women earning £210,000 less over a lifetime than men.

The actress is playing the lead role in the West End musical adaptation of the story about the female workers at Ford's Dagenham plant who went on strike over equal pay in 1968.

Arterton will be joined by Isla Blair and veterans of the Dagenham protest at a rally organised by Grazia magazine and the Unite union. It is timed to coincide with a Labour bid to force big firms to publish the difference in pay between male and female employees.

Shadow women's minister Gloria De Piero said: "Women are losing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds because they still earn less than men over their lifetime."

Labour backbencher Sarah Champion will propose new legislation under the 10-minute rule, although without Government support there is little chance of it becoming law due to a lack of parliamentary time.

Ms De Piero said: "It's time the Tories and Lib Dems demonstrated their commitment to delivering equal pay and vote with us."

Arterton, who played Strawberry Fields in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, will join other members of the Made In Dagenham cast at a rally organised by Grazia magazine and the Unite union.

The gender pay gap has narrowed by 0.6% to 9.4%, the lowest since records began in 1997, according to the most recent Office for National Statistics figures.

But Labour's analysis of the ONS annual survey of hours and earnings showed that over a career, from the age of 22 to 64, a woman earned an average of £209,976 less.

Ms Champion's Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill would bring into effect measures in Labour's 2010 Equality Act which were not implemented by the coalition Government and would require employers with more than 250 staff to publish information showing the difference between male and female pay.

Ms Champion told Sky News: "Whilst I am delighted to bring this Bill to Parliament and stand up for equal pay for women, I am so frustrated that equal pay still doesn't happen automatically.

"Almost 50 years ago the women of Ford Dagenham went on strike for equal pay. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970.

"It is nonsensical that despite outward commitments by many governments and many companies, equal pay for men and women is still a goal rather than a reality."

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman declined to comment on Ms Champion's motion, but said: "The issue around the gender pay gap is a very important one."

The spokesperson said the Government had taken action in the area, including new powers for companies found to have committed equal pay breaches to be required to publish a gender pay audit.

"At the heart of it all is the Government's track record in terms of the labour market, with record levels of female employment and a gender pay gap which in the area of full-time jobs for those under 40 has virtually been eliminated," said the spokesman.